Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 26 November 2009 - StrasbourgFinal edition
European Year of Volunteering (2011) *
 EC/Ukraine agreement for scientific and technological cooperation *
 Terms of Reference for the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) and the Memorandum concerning the hosting by the International Energy Agency of the Secretariat to the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation *
 Enlargement strategy 2009 concerning the countries of the western Balkans, Iceland and Turkey
 Elimination of violence against women
 A political solution with regard to the piracy off the Somali coast
 Smoke-free environments
 Ratification and implementation of updated ILO Conventions
 FAO World Summit on Food Security
 Nicaragua
 Laos and Vietnam
 China: minority rights and application of the death penalty

European Year of Volunteering (2011) *
PDF 174k   DOC 171k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 26 November 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision on the European Year of Volunteering (2011) (COM(2009)0254 – C7-0054/2009 – 2009/0072(CNS) )
P7_TA(2009)0094 A7-0077/2009

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2009)0254 ),

–   having regard to Article 308 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0054/2009 ),

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0077/2009 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Considers that the indicative amount indicated in the legislative proposal must be compatible with the ceilings of sub-heading 3b of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2007-2013 and points out that the annual amount will be decided by the Budgetary Authority within the annual budgetary procedure;

3.   Stresses that the funding of new activities should not jeopardise existing programmes or any other initiatives;

4.   Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5.   Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

6.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a decision
Recital -1 (new)
(-1) The Treaty establishes citizenship of the Union, which complements national citizenship of the Member States and is an important element in strengthening and safeguarding the process of European integration.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a decision
Recital - 1 a (new)
(-1a) Encouraging active citizenship is a key element in strengthening cohesion and the development of democracy and Europe's role in the world.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a decision
Recital -1 b (new)
(-1b) The "European Year of Voluntary Activities promoting active citizenship" will emphasise that volunteering is a key expression of active citizenship and democracy, putting European values such as solidarity and non-discrimination into action and as such contributing to the harmonious development of European societies.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a decision
Recital 1
(1)   The Community and the Member States aim to promote the development of human resources with a view to a high level of employment and combating social exclusion.
(1)   The Community and the Member States aim to promote the development of human resources with a view to a high level of employment and combating social exclusion by adopting measures aimed at improving knowledge, developing exchanges of information and of best practices, promoting innovative approaches and evaluating experiences .
Amendment 5
Proposal for a decision
Recital 3
(3)   Volunteering constitutes a non-formal learning experience which enables both the development of professional skills and competences as well as a major form of active civic participation. Actions carried out by volunteers of all ages are crucial to the development of democracy, one of the founding principles of the European Union, and contribute to the development of human resources and to the social cohesion .
(3)   Voluntary activities constitute a rich non-formal learning experience which enable the development of professional and social skills and competences, contribute to solidarity and constitute a major form of active civic participation. Volunteering promotes and encourages partnership and active citizenship, which puts European values such as solidarity and non-discrimination into action. Actions carried out by volunteers of all ages are crucial to the development of democracy and in particular participative democracy , one of the founding principles of the European Union, and to the promotion of human rights within and outside the European Union . Voluntary activities have the potential to contribute to the personal growth and well-being of individuals and the harmonious development of European societies in terms of solidarity, social inclusion and prosperity . Volunteering and voluntary activities should not, however, be a substitute for paid work, although the expenses of volunteers should be adequately reimbursed.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a decision
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)    The term "voluntary activities" refers to all forms of voluntary activity, whether formal, non-formal, informal and vocational training, which are undertaken of a person's own free will, choice and motivation, and are without concern for financial gain. They benefit the individual volunteer, communities and society as a whole. They are also a vehicle for individuals and associations to address human, social or environmental needs and concerns, especially when they are faced with emergency situations that can involve society as a whole. Such activities are often carried out in support of a non-profit organisation or community-based initiative. Voluntary activities do not replace professional, paid employment opportunities, but add value to society by virtue of their social and cultural aims.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a decision
Recital 4
(4)   In fast-changing societies there is a need to ensure the effectiveness of volunteer-supporting infrastructure to allow more people to engage in voluntary activities . It is therefore important to support peer-learning and the exchange of good practices at Community level.
(4)   In fast-changing societies there is a need to ensure effective support and to implement measures for voluntary activities to allow more people to engage in them . It is therefore important to support peer-learning and the exchange and development of good practices at Community, national, regional and local level, inter alia by setting up efficient systems of cooperation and networking between volunteer organisations, and especially through the establishment of a web portal .
Amendment 8
Proposal for a decision
Recital 5
(5)   The 1997 Intergovernmental Conference adopted Declaration 38 on volunteering, which was attached to the final act of the Treaty of Amsterdam and recognised the important contribution made by voluntary service activities to developing social solidarity.
(5)   The 1997 Intergovernmental Conference adopted Declaration 38 on volunteering, which was attached to the final act of the Treaty of Amsterdam and recognised the important contribution made by voluntary service activities to developing social solidarity and promoting intergenerational volunteering .
Amendment 9
Proposal for a decision
Recital 12
(12)   Volunteering is targeted by several community programmes that focus on mobility in volunteering , such as the European Voluntary Service of the Youth in Action programme, the Life Long Learning programme and the Europe for Citizens programme.
(12)   Voluntary activities are targeted by several community programmes and networks that focus on mobility in voluntary activities for people of all ages , such as the European Voluntary Service of the Youth in Action programme, the Life Long Learning programme and the Europe for Citizens programme. Given the horizontal nature of volunteering, it will create synergies between those programmes.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a decision
Recital 12 a (new)
(12a)    Volunteering is an essential element in fostering active citizenship, nurturing civil society and strengthening solidarity.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a decision
Recital 13
(13)   There exists a large variety of voluntary activities throughout Europe which should be preserved and developed further.
(13)   There exists a large variety and long tradition of voluntary activities throughout Europe which should be protected and developed further, among other means by the creation of a cross-border network among the volunteering associations in the different Member States to provide a permanent platform for the exchange of experience and best practices .
Amendment 12
Proposal for a decision
Recital 13 a (new)
(13a)    The European Year of Volunteering should offer an opportunity to encourage the Member States to create legal certainty for volunteers as regards their legal status.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a decision
Recital 13 b (new)
(13b)    The EU has a significant role to play in promoting, developing and supporting voluntary activities throughout the Union. However, it is important to recognise and respect the diversity of volunteering within individual Member States.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a decision
Recital 14
(14)   Volunteering has the potential to contribute to the harmonious development of European societies. Voluntary activities constitute a rich non-formal learning experience which enhances professional skills and competences, contributes to employability and a sense of solidarity, develops social skills, smoothes integration into society and fosters civic participation.
(14)   Volunteering has the potential to contribute to the harmonious development of European societies, promoting social inclusion, social well-being, combating racism and prejudice and contributing to intercultural and inter-religious dialogue .
Amendment 15
Proposal for a decision
Recital 14 a (new)
(14a)    Every individual should be enabled to volunteer. With a view to furthering individual development and participation, asylum seekers, refugees and legally resident immigrants should be increasingly enabled to play a role in volunteering activities, particularly when they are unable to be employed.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a decision
Recital 14 b (new)
(14b)    Voluntary activities constitute a rich non-formal learning experience which enhances professional skills and competences, contributes to employability by facilitating reintegration into the labour market, develops social skills and contributes to the personal growth and well-being of individuals.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a decision
Recital 14 c (new)
(14c)    Volunteering can contribute to fighting poverty and to achieving social and economic development, through actions carried out within the European Union and in third countries.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a decision
Recital 14 d (new)
(14d)    As part of their strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility, employers could support and encourage volunteering activities.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a decision
Recital 15
(15)   Despite this, the potential of volunteering is still not fully realised. A European Year of Volunteering will provide the opportunity to demonstrate in a European context that volunteering increases civic participation. It can help foster a sense of belonging and commitment of citizens to their society at all levels ‐ local, regional, national and European.
(15)   Despite this, the potential of volunteering is still not fully realised. Furthermore, at European level until now the work of those who volunteer in their free time has not been formally acknowledged. A European Year of Volunteering will therefore provide the opportunity to demonstrate in a European context that volunteering increases civic participation. It can help to foster among citizens a sense of belonging and commitment to their society at all levels – local, regional, national and European – and to encourage Member States to combat discrimination, making it possible for foreign residents, including asylum seekers, in every Member State to work as volunteers for not-for-profit organisations or to do unpaid work .
Amendment 20
Proposal for a decision
Recital 15 a (new)
(15a)    Member States should be encouraged to minimise bureaucratic constraints which hinder volunteers in carrying out voluntary activities.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a decision
Recital 15 b (new)
(15b)    The European Year of Volunteering should highlight the key role played by voluntary activities, while at the same time reminding the Member States that it should be used neither as a means of meeting basic needs normally met by social services nor as a substitute for action by public authorities.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a decision
Recital 16
(16)   The Year 2011 will be the 10th Anniversary of the 2001 International Year of Volunteers of the United Nations.
(16) 5 December is International Volunteer Day and the Year 2011 will be the 10th Anniversary of the 2001 International Year of Volunteers of the United Nations.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a decision
Recital 16 a (new)
(16a)    Apart from its social role, volunteering has an economic value and makes a significant contribution to the economy.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a decision
Recital 16 b (new)
(16b)    Volunteering plays a major role in environmental and civil protection and its contribution must be recognised and supported in every field, especially within the new democracies of the EU.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a decision
Recital 16 c (new)
(16c)    The recognition of volunteering as an appropriate activity through which to acquire competences and skills, e.g. through YOUTHPASS with a linkage to EUROPASS, will ensure that volunteering is not seen as an alternative to formal training but as a complement to it, and furthermore will facilitate the mobility of volunteers.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a decision
Recital 16 d (new)
(16d)    The recognition of the contribution of volunteer time as matching funding (in-kind contributions) for European and national projects would be a tangible recognition of the value of volunteer effort and would facilitate voluntary organisations in carrying out their activities.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a decision
Article 1
The year 2011 shall be designated as the 'European Year of Volunteering ' (hereinafter referred to as 'the European Year').
The year 2011 shall be designated as the 'European Year of Voluntary Activities promoting active citizenship ' (hereinafter referred to as 'the European Year').
(This amendment applies throughout the text.)
Amendment 28
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 1
The overall purpose of the European Year shall be to encourage and support ‐ notably through the exchange of experience and good practices ‐ the efforts of the Member States, local and regional authorities and civil society to create the conditions conducive to volunteering in the European Union.
The overall purpose of the European Year shall be to encourage and support ‐ notably through the exchange of experience and good practices and the promotion of innovative approaches and evaluating experience ‐ the efforts of the European Union, the Member States and local and regional authorities to create the conditions for civil society conducive to volunteering in the European Union and to increase the visibility and promote the importance of voluntary activities in the European Union .
Amendment 29
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 1
1.   Work towards an enabling environment for volunteering in the EU - To anchor volunteering as part of promoting civic participation and people-to-people activities in an EU context.
1.   Work towards an enabling environment for volunteering in the EU - To anchor volunteering as part of promoting civic participation, partnership and people-to-people activities in an EU context.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 2
2.   Empower volunteer organisations and improve the quality of volunteering - To facilitate volunteering and to encourage networking, mobility, cooperation and synergies between volunteer organisations and other sectors in an EU context.
2.   Empower volunteer organisations with respect to their aims, priorities and autonomy and improve the quality of volunteering - To promote volunteering and volunteer organisations' access to adequate, sustainable funding: by encouraging networking, mobility, cooperation and synergies between volunteer organisations and other not-for-profit sectors in an EU context; by encouraging initiatives in human and environmental emergency situations, both in terms of preventing and dealing with them and by properly educating volunteers to deal with and effectively face urgent cases; and by making it possible to put voluntary work on a permanent footing . The duty of care that volunteer organisations owe to their volunteers should be laid down in law and should incorporate adequate protection through insurance, health and safety measures and training.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 3
3.   Reward and recognise volunteering activities - To encourage appropriate incentives for individuals, companies and volunteer-development organisations and gain more systematic recognition for volunteering at EU level and in the Member States by policy makers, civil society organisations and employers for skills and competences developed through volunteering.
3.   Reward and recognise volunteering activities - To encourage appropriate incentives for individuals, companies and volunteer-development organisations - including proper health and safety cover for volunteers in the form of accident and personal liability insurance during periods of voluntary work, effective acknowledgement of the skills that volunteers acquire in the form of validation of experience and the recognition of equivalence for the purposes of training and job seeking - and gain more systematic recognition for volunteering at EU level and in the Member States by policy makers, civil society organisations and employers for skills and competences developed through volunteering.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 3 a (new)
3a.    Encourage international and European solidarity by promoting peace, North-South cooperation and the protection of the environment, as well as recognition of the solidarity-based social economy through volunteering.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 4
4.   Raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteering - To raise general awareness of the importance of volunteering as an expression of civic participation which contributes to issues which are of common concern of all Member States, such as a harmonious societal development and economic cohesion.
4.   Raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteering - To raise general awareness of the importance of volunteering as an expression of civic participation which contributes to issues which are of common concern of all Member States, such as a harmonious societal development and economic and social cohesion, and to promote volunteering activities in order to make them more attractive for citizens, thus enabling them to be involved in civic activities .
Amendment 34
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 4 a (new)
4a.    Draw up a White Paper on Volunteering – To foster an enabling environment for volunteering in the EU.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 2 – point 4 b (new)
4b.    Foster the recognition of volunteering success both within and between Member States in order to ensure that good practice and successful volunteering strategies can easily be spread throughout the European Union.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a decision
Article 3 – paragraph 1
1.   The measures to be taken to achieve the objectives set out in Article 2 shall include the following initiatives organised at Community, national, regional or local level linked to the objectives of the European Year:
1.   The measures to be taken to achieve the objectives set out in Article 2 shall include the following initiatives organised at Community, national, regional or local level linked to the objectives of the European Year:
• exchange of experience and good practices;
• exchange of experience and good practices, in particular by means of efficient systems of cooperation and networking between volunteer organisations ;
• dissemination of results of related studies and research;
• conferences, events and initiatives to promote debate and raise awareness of the importance and value of volunteering and to celebrate the efforts of volunteers ;
• conferences, events and initiatives to promote dialogue, innovative approaches and the evaluation of experience. Raising awareness of the importance and value of volunteering and fostering transnational networks with the purpose of active debate ;
• information and promotion campaigns to disseminate key messages.
• information and promotion campaigns to disseminate key messages inter alia through the use of new media and the internet and the creation of a European portal to achieve this;
• the establishment of a European online database of the actors, organisations and stakeholders involved in a given volunteering area, including both their completed and ongoing projects and also their future initiatives, with a view to better networking and communication between them.
• the promotion of the use of volunteer time as matching funding for European projects .
Amendment 37
Proposal for a decision
Article 4 – paragraph 2
Each Member State shall ensure that the aforementioned body properly involves a wide range of stakeholders at national, regional and local level.
Each Member State shall ensure that the aforementioned body properly involves a wide range of stakeholders at national, regional and local level, particularly when drafting the national work programme and national measure(s), for the entire duration of the European Year . The funds foreseen to fulfil the objectives of the Year shall be granted to civil society organisations involved directly with voluntary activities and work. Special attention must be paid in each national programme to the simplification of administrative procedures, inter alia by facilitating access to funding for small associations with limited resources.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a decision
Article 5 – paragraph 4
The Member States, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions will be associated in the activities.
The Member States, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions will be closely associated in the activities in order to achieve the added value that an exchange of best practices at Community level, including between the EU institutions, entails .
Amendment 39
Proposal for a decision
Article 7 – paragraph 1
1.   The budget for implementing this Decision for the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011 is EUR 6 000 000 .
1.   The budget for implementing this Decision for the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011 is EUR 10 000 000 .
Amendment 40
Proposal for a decision
Article 7 – paragraph 2
2.   Annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial framework.
2.   Annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial framework, without undermining the funding of other programmes or activities in sub-heading 3b .
Amendment 41
Proposal for a decision
Article 8
For the purpose of the European Year, the Commission may cooperate with appropriate international organisations, in particular with the United Nations and the Council of Europe, taking care to ensure the visibility of the EU's participation.
For the purpose of the European Year, the Commission may cooperate with appropriate international organisations, in particular with the United Nations and the Council of Europe, taking care to ensure the visibility of the EU's participation, and may also take action in order to stimulate other international organisations to enhance the volunteering dimension worldwide . In cooperation with these organisations, the Commission shall promote programmes for international volunteering aiming to encourage the exchange of best practices on volunteering in third countries.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a decision
Article 9
The Commission together with the Member States shall ensure that the measures provided for in this Decision are consistent with other Community, national and regional schemes and initiatives that help attain the objectives of the European Year.
The Commission together with the Member States shall ensure that the measures provided for in this Decision are consistent with and complementary to other Community programmes and actions and national and regional schemes and initiatives that help attain the objectives of the European Year.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a decision
Annex – point A – point 1
1.   Information and promotion campaigns including:
1.   Information and promotion campaigns including:
• high visibility events and forums for exchanging experience and good practices;
- high visibility events and forums for exchanging experience and good practices, with priority for twinning and mobility programmes, with the participation of European organisations or bodies active in the field of volunteering, representatives of employers' associations and unions, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Affairs Committee and the Committee of the Regions ;
• contest with or without prizes;
• cooperation with the private sector, broadcasters and other media as partners for disseminating information on the European Year of Volunteering ;
- cooperation with the private sector, broadcasters and other media as partners for disseminating information on voluntary activities and the European Year;
• the production of material and tools for media available throughout the Community to stimulate public interest;
- the production of material and tools for media available throughout the Community to stimulate public interest;
• measures to publicise the results and raise the profile of Community programmes; schemes and initiatives contributing to the objectives of the European Year of Volunteering ;
- measures to publicise the results and raise the profile of Community programmes; schemes and initiatives contributing to the objectives of the European Year;
• the establishment of an information website on Europa, including a portal for promoters of projects on volunteering, to guide them through the various Community programmes and initiatives.
- the establishment of an information website on Europa, including a portal for promoters of projects on volunteering, to guide them through the various Community programmes and initiatives, which shall be a permanent platform for interactive cooperation between different stakeholders;
- action to make the contribution of voluntary activities to national revenue and its impact on society more visible through the inclusion of volunteering as a specific category in the statistical accounts of Eurostat and the production of 'satellite accounts' on not-for-profit organisations, in which unpaid voluntary work would be included, as well as through the celebration on 5 December each year of International Volunteering Day, as recognised by the United Nations since 1985 .
Amendment 44
Proposal for a decision
Annex – point A – point 2 – indent 1
- surveys and studies at Community level to assess and report on the preparation, effectiveness, impact and long-term monitoring of the European Year of Volunteering .
- surveys and studies at Community level to assess and report on the preparation, effectiveness and impact of the European Year and to lay the foundations for the long-term monitoring and follow-up thereof .
Amendment 45
Proposal for a decision
Annex – point C – paragraph 1
Each National coordinator shall submit a single application for Community funding. That grant application shall describe the coordinator's work programme or the action to be funded and promote the European Year. The grant application shall be accompanied by a detailed budget setting out the total costs of the initiatives/work programme proposed and the amount and sources of co-funding. The Community grant can cover up to 80 % of the total costs.
Each National coordinating body shall submit a single application for Community funding. That grant application shall include a description - drawn up on the basis of ongoing consultation with the volunteer organisations - of the coordinating body's priorities and work programme or the action(s) to be funded and shall promote the European Year. The grant application shall be accompanied by a detailed budget setting out the total costs of the action(s)/work programme proposed and the amount and sources of co-funding. The Community grant can cover up to 80 % of the total costs. A possibility of in-kind contributions should be permitted in those Member States whose legislative framework permits it.
Amendment 46
Proposal for a decision
Annex – point C – paragraph 2
The Commission shall determine the indicative amounts available for grants to each National coordinator and the final deadline for submission of the applications. The criteria should take into account the population, the cost of living and a fixed amount per Member State to guarantee a minimum level of activities.
The Commission shall determine the indicative amounts available for grants to each National coordinating body and the final deadline for submission of the applications. The criteria should take into account the population, the cost of living and a fixed amount per Member State to guarantee a minimum level of activities.
Amendment 47
Proposal for a decision
Annex – point C – paragraph 4
The work programmes/actions shall include:
The work programmes/actions shall include:
(a)   Meetings and events connected with the objectives of the European Year, including national events to launch and promote the European Year, create a catalyst effect and provide open space for debate on concrete initiatives.
(a)   Meetings and events connected with the objectives of the European Year, including national events to launch and promote the European Year, create a catalyst effect and provide open space for debate on concrete initiatives.
(b)   Mutual learning seminars at national, regional and local level;
(b)   Conferences and thematic seminars at national, regional and local level allowing for peer-learning and exchange of good practices ;
(c)   Information, educational and promotional campaigns at national, regional and local level, including the organisation of awards and competitions ;
(c)   Information, research activities and related studies, educational and promotional campaigns at national, regional and local level;
(d)   Cooperation with the media.
(d)   Cooperation with the private and non-state sector and the media in disseminating information about the European Year and in undertaking actions aimed at long-term dialogue on issues related to volunteering and to vocational training activities directed at volunteers in order to render sustainable the activities even after the end of the 2011 European Year .

EC/Ukraine agreement for scientific and technological cooperation *
PDF 63k   DOC 30k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 26 November 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the renewal of the Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and Ukraine (COM(2009)0182 – C7-0018/2009 – 2009/0062(CNS) )
P7_TA(2009)0095 A7-0074/2009

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2009)0182 ),

–   having regard to Article 170, Article 300(2), first subparagraph, and Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0018/2009 ),

–   having regard to Rules 55, 46(1) and 90(8) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0074/2009 ),

1.   Approves renewal of the agreement;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States and Ukraine.


Terms of Reference for the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) and the Memorandum concerning the hosting by the International Energy Agency of the Secretariat to the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation *
PDF 62k   DOC 31k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 26 November 2009 on the proposal for a Council decision on the signing of the 'Terms of Reference for the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation' (IPEEC) and the 'Memorandum concerning the hosting by the International Energy Agency of the Secretariat to the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation' by the European Community (COM(2009)0438 – C7-0219/2009 – 2009/0119(CNS) )
P7_TA(2009)0096 A7-0075/2009

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2009)0438 ),

–   having regard to Article 175(1), Article 300(2), first subparagraph, and Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0219/2009 ),

–   having regard to Rules 55, 90(8) and 46(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0075/2009 ),

1.   Approves the signing of the Terms of Reference and the Memorandum;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the International Energy Agency.


Enlargement strategy 2009 concerning the countries of the western Balkans, Iceland and Turkey
PDF 122k   DOC 59k
European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on the Commission's 2009 enlargement strategy paper concerning the Western Balkan countries, Iceland and Turkey
P7_TA(2009)0097 B7-0185/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled "Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010" (COM(2009)0533 ), and the accompanying 2009 Country Progress Reports,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 16 March 2006 on the Commission's 2005 enlargement paper(1) , of 13 December 2006 on the Commission's Communication on the Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2006–2007(2) , and of 10 July 2008 on the Commission's 2007 enlargement strategy paper(3) ,

   having regard to its previous resolutions on the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 14 October 2009 entitled "Kosovo(4) – Fulfilling its European Perspective" (COM(2009)0534 ),

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, on the basis of Article 49 of the EU Treaty, "[any] European State ... may apply to become a member of the Union",

B.   whereas the future of the Western Balkans lies with the European Union, as reaffirmed by the Thessaloniki European Council of 19-20 June 2003, the Brussels European Council of 15-16 June 2006 and subsequent summits; whereas all the existing commitments made to the south-east European countries should be honoured,

C.   whereas Turkey has been a candidate country since 1999, Croatia since 2004 and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since 2005; whereas Albania, Montenegro and Iceland have applied for membership of the Union and the Commission is in the process of evaluating the applications of Montenegro and Iceland; whereas Stabilisation and Association Agreements have been signed with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and with Serbia; and whereas the Commission has announced its intention to propose trade agreements and visa liberalisation for Kosovo in the medium term,

D.   whereas, since previous enlargements have undoubtedly been a success both for the EU and for the Member States which joined it and have contributed to the stability, development and prosperity of Europe as a whole, it is essential to create the conditions needed to ensure that future enlargements are a success too,

E.   whereas the enlargement strategy must be much more than a negotiating methodology, reflecting the core belief that the EU is a community of shared values, and is inextricably linked to the debate on the EU's objectives and effectiveness, its future and its role in the neighbourhood and the world,

F.   whereas a number of candidates and potential candidates for EU membership continue to have unresolved issues with their neighbours; whereas regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations remain key factors in the integration process,

1.   Remains strongly committed to the enlargement policy, which has proved to be one of the most successful of all EU policies and has benefited both existing and new Member States; recalls that previous enlargements have contributed to an unprecedented extension of the area of peace, security and prosperity in Europe, and reaffirms the commitment of the European Union to keeping up the enlargement process;

2.   Believes that lessons can be learned from previous enlargements and that further ways of improving the quality of the enlargement process must be based on the positive experiences accumulated so far; also recalls, as indicated in previous resolutions, the need to allow for adequate institutional, financial and political consolidation whilst pursuing the enlargement process;

3.   Emphasises that the principles expressed in the Presidency conclusions of the Brussels European Council meeting of 14-15 December 2006 concerning the "renewed consensus on enlargement", in particular the European Union's ability to function effectively and to develop, must remain indispensable tenets of the EU enlargement policy;

4.   Reaffirms that a firm commitment to full and rigorous compliance with all the criteria established at the Copenhagen European Council of 21 and 22 June 1993 by candidate countries as well as by the European Union is imperative, including for the European Union's integration capacity;

5.   Calls on the EU institutions to analyse and increase the integration capacity of the European Union;

6.   Stresses that the rule of law is a key principle of democratic, economic and social development and one of the main conditions for EU accession; welcomes the efforts made in the region in implementing respective reforms but notes that some countries continue to face major challenges, particularly in the fight against corruption and organised crime; urges those countries to intensify their efforts in this field;

7.   Stresses that freedom of expression is one of the fundamental principles of democracy and observes with concern that in some countries it is not yet fully respected; considers it to be a priority for the Western Balkans and Turkey to ensure the freedom of media from political interference and to guarantee the independence of the regulatory bodies; calls on the countries concerned to set up proper legal frameworks and to ensure that the law is respected;

8.   Emphasises that full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) constitutes a fundamental condition for the Western Balkans countries to make progress on the path to membership of the Union, but points out that, equally importantly, redress for war crimes should be seen by society in those countries as a vital step to bring justice to the victims and to facilitate regional reconciliation;

9.   Emphasises the importance of good neighbourly relations as a prerequisite for regional stability and cooperation and for an unhindered enlargement process; therefore, calls on all the countries concerned to make every possible effort to resolve their disagreements with their neighbours in the early stages of the enlargement process; stresses, however, that such bilateral disputes should be resolved by the parties concerned; suggests that if the parties concerned fail to resolve such disputes, the European Union should make all efforts to bring about a solution; points out that while such disputes should not, in themselves, constitute an obstacle to progress towards accession, the European Union should avoid being encumbered by such outstanding bilateral disputes and should endeavour to resolve them before accession;

10.   Notes with concern the economic problems facing the Western Balkans region as a result of the financial crisis; welcomes the Commission's willingness to provide extraordinary financial aid, such as macro-economic assistance and direct budget support; stresses that the situation is particularly difficult in view of high poverty and unemployment levels in some of the countries concerned; calls on the Commission and on the countries themselves to make every possible effort to mitigate the effects of the crisis, particularly on the most vulnerable members of society;

11.   Underlines the importance of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans as an important factor for the enlargement process and at the same time as a vital element of the reconciliation process, enhancing people-to-people contacts; moreover, recalls the benefits of such cooperation in terms of increased trade volumes, energy security, enhanced by diversifying energy suppliers, sources and supply routes, environmental policies and the fight against organised crime and trafficking; to this end, notes with satisfaction the work of the Regional Cooperation Council; calls for more political will and better coordination for the implementation of the anti-trafficking strategy, particularly regarding victim protection; stresses that regional political and economic cooperation must include all the political players as well as civil society, in particular women's organisations, and should not be hampered by bilateral political problems; in this respect, calls on all parties concerned to seek pragmatic solutions with a view to ensuring the inclusiveness of regional cooperation, without prejudice to the differing positions on the status of Kosovo;

12.   Calls on all countries concerned to make a greater effort in the area of women's rights and gender equality, particularly as regards combating gender violence, promoting access to legal remedies for gender discrimination and furthering the political participation of women;

13.   Considers it crucial to encourage increased participation of civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at both central and local level as well as to improve support and funding for NGOs, to encourage their participation in the planning and the use of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Civil Society Facility, and to improve the social dialogue in the labour market;

14.   Calls on the countries in the region to make greater efforts to improve the situation of ethnic minorities, and in particular the Roma; emphasises that the Roma are frequently victims of discrimination, and that, in particular, their participation in decision-making processes, in the labour market and in mainstream education systems should be greatly increased; in this regard, takes note of the bilaterally agreed readmission agreements concluded by the Western Balkan countries with the Member States, and calls on the countries concerned to step up their efforts to create appropriate social conditions, infrastructure and access to public services in order to ensure the fundamental rights of the Roma and to facilitate their reintegration after their return; calls on Western Balkan countries and the Member States to follow up closely the reintegration of the repatriated Roma and to report back on the achievements reached to the Commission on an annual basis in order to facilitate the evaluation of the reintegration policies and the exchange of best practices;

15.   Stresses the vital importance of the process of visa liberalisation for the Western Balkan countries; welcomes the fact that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have met the criteria for visa liberalisation so that the visa-free regime is expected to apply for their citizens from 19 December 2009; welcomes the actions taken by the BiH and Albanian authorities to accelerate meeting the conditions of the roadmap on the visa-free travel regime and urges them to advance preparations in order to fulfil all relevant criteria so that visa liberalisation for citizens of those countries can apply from July 2010; considers that, with the aim of furthering the implementation of the Thessaloniki agenda and as part of its regional approach, the Commission, within the limits of its competence and in the light of UN Security Council resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, should start the visa dialogue with Kosovo as soon as possible with a view to establishing a roadmap for visa facilitation and liberalisation similar to those established with Western Balkan countries;

16.   Urges all countries in the region to adopt or effectively implement laws on the prohibition of discrimination as soon as possible, particularly in light of the fact that many instances of threats, attacks, intimidation, or discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people remain unreported and unprosecuted;

17.   Calls on the international and the Kosovar authorities to do their utmost for the immediate closure of the lead-contaminated camps for internally displaced people in Çesmin Llugë/Česmin Lug, Osterode and Leposaviq/Leposavić, which are located at the highly toxic tailing stands of the Trepça lead mine, and to ensure the very basic human rights of families living there by relocating them to secure places with decent sanitary conditions;

18.   Is of the opinion that, in order to maintain the support of EU citizens for further enlargement and the commitment of the citizens of the candidate countries to continue reforms, it is crucial to present them with clear and comprehensive information on the benefits and implications of this policy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make efforts to that end; considers it to be equally essential to listen to and address citizens" concerns and questions;

19.   Commends Croatia for its continued progress in meeting the criteria of accession to the Union as well as the obligations of membership; welcomes the bilateral agreement on resolving the border dispute with Slovenia, which has created the momentum to open further chapters in the accession process; considers that the accession negotiations can be concluded by mid-2010, provided that Croatia steps up its efforts and fulfils all the necessary criteria and benchmarks, including full cooperation with the ICTY;

20.   Congratulates the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the progress it has achieved since the last progress report, and in particular during the last few months; notes with satisfaction that this progress has been acknowledged by the Commission, which has recommended the opening of accession negotiations with the country; calls on the Council to act in accordance with the Commission's recommendation at the summit to be held in December 2009; expects the negotiations to begin in the near future with the hope that mutually satisfactory solutions to outstanding issues with neighbouring countries can be reached, including the name issue between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece; calls on the governments of both countries to intensify their efforts to this end; recalls the importance of good neighbourly relations and urges the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to be sensitive on issues affecting its neighbours; notes the recent establishment of diplomatic relations with Kosovo, as well as the conclusion of the agreement on the physical demarcation of the border, as a vital contribution to regional stability;

21.   Calls on the authorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue their efforts in the reform process, particularly in the fields of the reform of public administration and the judiciary, anti-corruption policy, women's rights and inter-ethnic relations, including guaranteeing the rights of persons of all ethnic backgrounds and increasing their participation in public life and administration;

22.   Commends the progress that Turkey as a candidate country has made towards fulfilment of the Copenhagen political criteria; urges the Turkish Government and all parliamentary parties in Turkey to establish consensus on the formulation and implementation of key reforms; welcomes the government's approval of the judiciary reform strategy and points out the crucial importance of its swift implementation for the functioning of the Turkish State and society; is concerned about the situation in the area of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, particularly following the unprecedented fine imposed on a media group; notes with satisfaction the increasingly open public debate in Turkey about previous taboos; regrets the limited progress made in the area of freedom of religion, and urges the government to establish a legal framework in line with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms enabling all non-Muslim religious communities and the Alevi community to function without undue constraints; deplores the continued non-fulfilment of commitments stemming from the Additional Protocol to the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and urges Turkey to proceed to its full, non-discriminatory implementation; calls on the Turkish Government, as well as on all the parties concerned, to contribute actively to the swift devising of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question, based on UN Security Council resolutions and the principles on which the EU is founded; welcomes the efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue in the context of the "Democratic Opening" project; encourages the Turkish Government to take concrete measures to address the situation of citizens of Kurdish origin and asks all political forces to support this process; commends the diplomatic efforts made to normalise relations with Armenia and urges the Turkish Grand National Assembly, as well as the Parliament of Armenia, to ratify the relevant protocols; welcomes Turkey's signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Nabucco gas pipeline, the implementation of which remains one of the EU's highest energy security priorities, and calls for the opening of the energy chapter in the accession negotiations; takes note of the resumption of negotiations on a EU-Turkey readmission agreement, and urges Turkey to fully implement, in the meantime, the existing bilateral readmission agreements with the Member States; calls on the Turkish Government to intensify the foreign policy coordination with the EU, in particular regarding Iran; regrets, however, that the NATO-EU strategic cooperation extending beyond the "Berlin plus" arrangements continues to be blocked by Turkey's objections, which has negative consequences for the protection of the EU personnel deployed, and urges Turkey to set aside those objections as soon as possible;

23.   Notes with satisfaction the progress made by Serbia, and in particular its unilateral implementation of the Interim Agreement; is of the opinion that such unilateral implementation, carried out against the background of the financial crisis, shows that country's commitment to moving forward on the path to membership of the Union; therefore urges the Council to decide on the ratification of the Interim Agreement without delay; requests Serbia to cooperate fully with the ICTY; welcomes in this respect the report, submitted on 4 June 2009, of the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, stating that Serbia has made additional progress in its cooperation with the ICTY; attaches importance to the fact that prosecutions are continuing in the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court; welcomes the signing of the police protocol by the Serbian authorities with the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX KOSOVO) and calls on Serbia to further step up its cooperation with EULEX KOSOVO, especially as regards EULEX KOSOVO's operations in northern Kosovo; regrets the call addressed by the Serbian authorities to the Kosovo Serbs for a boycott of the local elections on 15 November 2009 and urges them to adopt a constructive approach aimed at encouraging the active participation of the Kosovo Serb community in the Kosovo institutions;

24.   Acknowledges that some progress has been made by BiH in the area of security and border management; however, expresses its dissatisfaction over the limited progress achieved by BiH as a potential candidate country on the path to membership of the Union; notes with growing concern the unstable political climate and the lack of a common vision shared by both entities, and condemns the use of inflammatory language, which can undermine the achievements in the process of inter-ethnic reconciliation and the functioning of State structures; encourages the Council to continue its efforts, with the support of the international community, to pursue a dialogue with political leaders in BiH in order to help that country and its peoples to remain on the path to European integration; emphasises the importance of creating a more sustainable constitutional framework permitting the country's institutions to function more effectively; consequently takes note of the most recent joint diplomatic efforts by the Presidency of the Council, the Commission and the US administration and recommends further negotiations taking into account previous arrangements between politicians in BiH; recalls the necessity of involving parliamentarians and civil society more closely in sustaining a viable country;

25.   Welcomes the intention of the Commission to strengthen relations with Kosovo(5) , including exploring the possibility of Kosovo participating in Community programmes; expects the process of decentralisation to be concluded before the end of the year in order to meet the basic requirements of the Ahtisaari Plan, ensuring political representation for all the inhabitants of Kosovo and in particular for the Serb minority; calls on the Kosovar authorities to continue their efforts to improve and guarantee respect for the rights of minorities; welcomes the overall peaceful and smooth conduct of the local elections of 15 November 2009 and acknowledges the efforts of the Central Election Commission in preparing for them; welcomes, furthermore, the unprecedented good participation of Kosovo Serbs and regards this as an encouraging indication that the Kosovo Serb community is willing to take up its responsibilities in the Kosovo institutions; welcomes the achievement by EULEX KOSOVO of a full operational capability such as will enable it to fulfil its mandate of promoting the rule of law, public order and security in transparency and accountability throughout the whole of Kosovo and pave the way for Kosovo's integration in the Union, if it meets the necessary conditions and requirements;

26.   Acknowledges the progress made by Montenegro since the last progress report; notes that the country has applied for membership of the Union and that the Council has taken the decision to invite the Commission to prepare its opinion on Montenegro's application; commends Montenegro on its achievement, especially on the smooth conduct of the recent elections and its solid economic performance in spite of the global economic crisis, and encourages the country to continue its efforts on the path of reform;

27.   Acknowledges the progress made by Albania since the last progress report, and in particular in the process of issuing identity cards and improvements in the legal and administrative framework of the election process, as manifested by the last national elections; urges the opposition to stop boycotting the parliament and calls on it to perform its duty to represent its voters in the parliament; calls on the government and the opposition to find a common basis for a follow-up of the last elections in the parliament; notes that Albania has applied for membership of the Union and that the Council has taken the decision to invite the Commission to prepare its opinion on the country's application; encourages the Albanian authorities to continue their efforts on the path of reform in favour of the economic and social progress of its citizens, so that the country can progress on its way to membership of the European Union;

28.   Welcomes Iceland's application for membership and expects that the Commission will soon formulate an opinion and a recommendation on that application and that, in view of that country's well-established democratic tradition and high level of alignment with the acquis communautaire, Iceland will receive candidate status in the near future; however considers that Iceland's track record in implementing its obligations under the Agreement on the European Economic Area should be an essential element of the Commission's assessment; reiterates its call for the Commission to open a delegation office in Reykjavik as soon as the first half of 2010;

29.   Calls on the Commission and the Council to develop a functional and coherent model for the new EU delegations in the enlargement area, preserving the unity of EU action after the setting up of the European External Action Service (EEAS), especially if competence for enlargement policy remains outside of the scope of the EEAS;

30.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the countries concerned.

(1) OJ C 291 E, 30.11.2006, p. 402.
(2) OJ C 317 E, 23.12.2006, p. 480.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0363 .
(4)* Under UNSCR 1244/1999.
(5) 22 EU Member States have recognised Kosovo and five have not.


Elimination of violence against women
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on the elimination of violence against women
P7_TA(2009)0098 B7-0139/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the provisions of the UN legal instruments in the sphere of human rights, in particular those concerning women's rights, such as the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–   having regard to other UN instruments on violence against women, such as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 25 June 1993 adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights (A/CONF. 157/23), the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women of 20 December 1993 (A/RES/48/104), the UN General Assembly resolutions of 12 December 1997 entitled "Crime prevention and criminal justice measures to eliminate violence against women" (A/RES/52/86), of 18 December 2002 entitled "Working towards the elimination of crimes against women committed in the name of honour" (A/RES/57/179), and of 22 December 2003 entitled "Elimination of domestic violence against women" (A/RES/58/147), the reports by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' Special Rapporteurs on violence against women, and the General Recommendation No 19 adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (11th session, 1992),

–   having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995 and Parliament´s resolutions of 18 May 2000 on the follow-up to the Beijing Action Platform(1) and of 10 March 2005 on the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women - Platform for Action (Beijing+10)(2) ,

–   having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 6 July 2006 entitled "In-depth study on all forms of violence against women" (A/61/122/Add.1),

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to the UN General Assembly resolution of 19 December 2006 entitled "Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women" (A/RES/61/143),

–   having regard to resolution 2003/45 of the UN Commission on Human Rights of 23 April 2003 entitled "Elimination of violence against women" (E/CN.4/RES/2003/45),

–   having regard to the resolution of the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted by the 114th Assembly on 12 May 2006 on the role of parliaments in combating violence against women,

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 September 1997 on the need to establish a European Union wide campaign for zero tolerance of violence against women(3) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 2 February 2006 on the current situation in combating violence against women and any future action(4) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 October 2007 on the murder of women (feminicide) in Mexico and Central America and the role of the European Union in fighting the phenomenon(5) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 March 2009 on combating female genital mutilation in the EU(6) ,

–   having regard to the questions of 1 October 2009 to the Council (O-0096/2009 − B7-0220/2009 ) and Commission ( O-0097/2009 − B7-0221/2009 ) on elimination of violence against women,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the Beijing UN Platform for Action defined violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty,

B.   whereas the Beijing UN Platform for Action stated that violence against women is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and the prevention of women's full advancement,

C.   whereas men's violence against women is not only a public health problem, but also an aspect of inequality between women and men, which is an area in which the EU has the mandate to take action,

D.   whereas equality between women and men is a core principle of the EU, recognised in the EC Treaty and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

E.   whereas men's violence against women represents a violation of human rights, and in particular: the right to life, the right to safety, the right to dignity, the right to physical and mental integrity, and the right to sexual and reproductive choice and health,

F.   whereas men's violence against women is an obstacle to the participation of women in social activities, in political and public life and in the labour market, and can lead to marginalisation and poverty for women,

G.   whereas, in its extreme form, violence against women can lead to their murder,

H.   whereas violence against women goes hand in hand with violence against children and has an impact on children's psychological wellbeing and lives,

I.   whereas violence against women as mothers directly and indirectly affects and has a long-lasting negative impact on their children's emotional and mental health, and can create a cycle of violence and abuse which is perpetuated through generations,

J.   whereas men's violence against women is a structural and widespread problem throughout Europe and the world, a phenomenon affecting victims and perpetrators irrespective of age, education, income or social position, and is linked to the unequal distribution of power between women and men in our society,

K.   whereas the types of violence perpetrated against women vary in different cultures and traditions, and whereas female genital mutilation, so-called crimes of honour and forced marriages are a reality in the EU,

L.   whereas situations of war and armed conflict, post-conflict reconstruction and economic, social and/or financial crises increase the vulnerability of women individually and collectively to male violence against them and should not be considered as an excuse to tolerate male violence,

M.   whereas trafficking in women for sexual and other purposes constitutes a fundamental violation of women's human rights, and is harmful to the individual victims as well as to society at large,

N.   whereas the tolerance of prostitution in Europe leads to an increase in trafficking of women into Europe for sexual purposes, and to sex tourism,

O.   whereas there is no regular and comparable data collection on different types of violence against women in the EU, which makes it difficult to ascertain the real extent of the phenomenon and find appropriate solutions to the problem,

P.   whereas the number of women victims of gender-based violence is alarming,

Q.   whereas the frequently distorted, consumerist image of women conveyed by the media undermines respect for human dignity,

R.   whereas, apart from economic dependence (which is often the case for women), important factors in female victims not reporting violence lie in the societal culture and representations suggesting that men's violence against women is a private matter or that women themselves are often to blame for such violence,

S.   whereas frequently, for a variety of complex psychological, financial, social, and cultural reasons, women do not report men's violence against them and are sometimes deterred from doing so by a lack of confidence in the police, the judicial system and social and medical services,

T.   whereas it has frequently called for the creation of a European Year for the elimination of all forms of violence against women,

U.   whereas the UN has declared 25 November the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, and whereas an international seminar on violence against women is to be held at the European Parliament in December 2009,

V.   whereas there is a pressing need to introduce a comprehensive legal instrument aimed at combating all forms of violence against women in Europe, including trafficking in women,

1.   Urges the Member States to improve their national laws and policies to combat all forms of violence against women, in particular through the development of comprehensive national action plans to combat violence against women, based on an analysis of the gender-equality implications of violence against women and the international treaty obligations of Member States to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, and including concrete measures to prevent male violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators;

2.   Urges the Member States to provide assistance, under appropriate national programmes and financing schemes, to voluntary bodies and organisations which offer shelter and psychological support to female victims of violence, not least in order to enable them to re-enter the labour market and in that way fully regain their human dignity;

3.   Calls on the Commission to submit to the Parliament and the Council a targeted and a more coherent EU policy plan to combat all forms of violence against women, as stated in the Commission communication of 1 March 2006 entitled "A Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010" (COM(2006)0092 ), to include measures to combat violence against women in its action programme for equal opportunities for men and women for 2011-2016, as well as concrete measures to prevent all forms of violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, and to ensure that an analysis of the gender equality implications of male violence against women in all policy areas is carried out and that the EU institutions and the Member States develop a coordinated, committed and coherent response in order to eradicate such violence;

4.   Urges the Commission to study the option of adopting new measures to combat violence against women;

5.   Calls on the Commission to organise a special high-level conference to be attended by representatives of political bodies, civil society and social and institutional organisations, with the aim of contributing to a process of developing more coherent policies addressing all forms of violence against women;

6.   Calls on the EU to guarantee the right to assistance and support for all victims of violence, including trafficking in human beings, regardless of the victim's nationality, and protection of female victims of domestic violence whose legal status might depend on their partner;

7.   Calls on the EU to set up mechanisms to ensure that the gender-equality analysis of trafficking in human beings is part of all laws and policies aimed at preventing and combating trafficking, and to address the root causes of violence through preventive measures such as sanctions, education and awareness campaigns;

8.   Points out that it is still waiting for the results of the Commission study on legislation on gender-based violence and violence against women;

9.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that female victims of violence have proper access to legal aid and to protection, irrespective of their nationality and the nature of their involvement in police investigations;

10.   Urges the Council and Commission to establish a clear legal basis for combating all forms of violence against women, including trafficking;

11.   Calls on the Commission to start work on drafting a proposal for a comprehensive directive on action to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women;

12.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to act to tackle the causes of violence against women, not least by employing preventive measures and undertaking awareness campaigns on the different forms that such violence can take;

13.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to embark on concerted action, including public awareness and information campaigns, on domestic violence, as well as strategies aimed at changing the social stereotyping of women through education and the media, and to encourage the exchange of good practice;

14.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address violence against women and the gender-related dimension of human rights violations internationally, in particular in the context of the bilateral association and international trade agreements in force and those under negotiation;

15.   Deplores, in this context, the lack of a meaningful gender dimension in the compulsory sustainability impact assessments which are carried out prior to the conclusion of such agreements, let alone any acknowledgement of the issue of sexual violence, and of a set of tools to analyse gender impact, and calls on the Commission to come forward as soon as possible with a proposal to solve this problem;

16.   Calls on the Member States to have due regard for the specific circumstances of certain categories of women who are particularly vulnerable to violence, such as women belonging to minorities, female immigrants, female refugees, women living in poverty in rural or isolated communities, women in prison or other institutions, girls, homosexual women, women with disabilities, and older women;

17.   Urges the Member States to step up measures to prevent gender-based violence among young people by providing for targeted education campaigns and better cooperation among stakeholders and the various circles affected by the phenomenon, such as families, schools, the public space, and the media;

18.   Calls on the Commission also to address the international dimension of violence against women in the context of its work on corporate social responsibility, in particular in relation to European undertakings working in export-processing zones;

19.   Stresses the importance of proper training for those working with female victims of male violence, including representatives of the justice system and law enforcement, with particular reference to the police, the courts, social, medical and legal services, labour market agencies, employers and trade unions;

20.   Calls for the creation of mechanisms to facilitate access for women who are victims of gender violence or trafficking networks to free legal aid enabling them to assert their rights throughout the Union; insists on the need to improve cooperation among legal professionals and the exchange of best practices in the fight against discrimination and gender violence, and to find ways of eliminating obstacles to the recognition of legal acts in other Member States, including sentences for gender-violence offences and injunctions against violent men;

21.   Welcomes the fact that courts have been set up in some Member States to deal with violence against women, and calls on all Member States to take this initiative further;

22.   Calls for records concerning gender-based violence to play a central role within the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS);

23.   Urges the Member States to introduce a coherent system for collecting statistics on violence against women, with particular reference to violence against minors, and including murders committed in the context of violence within the family or close relationships, in close cooperation with the European Institute for Gender Equality in order to obtain comparable data concerning violence against women throughout the EU;

24.   Urges the Member States to recognise sexual violence and rape against women, including within marriage and intimate informal relationships and/or where committed by male relatives, as a crime in cases where the victim did not give consent, and to ensure that such offences result in automatic prosecution and reject any reference to cultural, traditional or religious practices or traditions as a mitigating factor in cases of violence against women, including so-called 'crimes of honour' and female genital mutilation;

25.   Notes that some Member States have been implementing policies aimed at recognising sexual violence between partners, and specifically marital violence, as a crime; calls on the Member States to study the outcome of those policies with a view to encouraging a Europe-wide exchange of good practice;

26.   Calls on the Member States to take appropriate measures to stop female genital mutilation; points out that immigrants residing in the Community should be aware that female genital mutilation is a serious assault on women's health and a violation of human rights; calls on Member States either to implement specific legal provisions on female genital mutilation or to adopt such laws and prosecute all persons who conduct genital mutilation;

27.   Calls on the EU to guarantee the right to assistance and support for all victims of male violence against women;

28.   Urges the Member States to investigate without delay the extreme human rights abuses against Roma women, penalise the perpetrators and provide adequate compensation to victims of forced sterilisation;

29.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the UN Secretary-General.

(1) OJ C 59, 23.2.2001, p. 258.
(2) OJ C 320 E, 15.12.2005, p. 247.
(3) OJ C 304, 6.10.1997, p. 55.
(4) OJ C 288 E, 25.11.2006, p. 66.
(5) OJ C 227 E, 4.9.2008, p. 140.
(6) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0161 .


A political solution with regard to the piracy off the Somali coast
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on a political solution to the problem of piracy off the Somali coast
P7_TA(2009)0099 B7-0158 , 0159 , 0160 and 0163/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Somalia,

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2008 on piracy at sea(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 June 2008 on the routine killing of civilians in Somalia(2) ,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the External Relations Council (meetings of 27 July 2009 (12354/2009) and of 17 November 2009 (15914/2009)),

–   having regard to Council Decision 2008/918/CFSP of 8 December 2008 on the launch of a European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast (Atalanta)(3) , named Operation Atalanta,

–   having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolutions S/RES1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008), 1846 (2008), 1851 (2008), 1863 (2009) and 1972 (2009),

–   having regard to the exchange of letters between the European Union and the Government of Kenya on the conditions and modalities for the transfer of persons suspected of having committed acts of piracy and detained by European Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), and seized property in the possession of EUNAVFOR, from EUNAVFOR to Kenya and for their treatment after such transfer,

–   having regard to an exchange of letters concluded on 30 October 2009 between the EU and the Republic of the Seychelles, allowing the transfer to the Seychelles of suspected pirates and armed robbers apprehended by EUNAVFOR in the operation area,

–   having regard to the guiding principles agreed by the parties to the Djibouti Peace Agreement on 25 November 2008, in particular the establishment of a unity government and an inclusive parliament in Somalia,

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the recent renewed fighting between Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) insurgents and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops has led to increased instability and loss of life in Somalia,

B.   whereas the international community respects Somalia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity,

C.   whereas Somalia has not had a functioning government since the Siad Barre regime was overthrown in 1991, and whereas the political situation since then has been one of anarchy, marked by inter-clan fighting and banditry,

D.   whereas the worsening security situation in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has made it impossible for national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to cope with an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe and respond to emergencies,

E.   whereas widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict in Somalia – specifically torture and other ill-treatment, rape, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention and attacks on civilians, journalists, human rights defenders and civilian infrastructure – continue to occur in Somalia,

F.   whereas there is concern about the prolonged civil war in Somalia and its implications for the peace and reconciliation process in that country as well as for the security and stability of the Horn of Africa as a whole,

G.   whereas, until very recently, pirate attacks have targeted not only merchant ships but also World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, fishing boats and tourist ships,

H.   whereas such piracy in part results from but also contributes to violence and political instability in Somalia, has a knock-on effect on the rest of the Horn region, and has concomitant consequences for the civilian population of Somalia in terms of exposure to threats, lack of development and interruptions to food aid and other humanitarian efforts,

I.   whereas on 8 December 2008 the Council decided to launch, as part of the comprehensive action taken by the EU in the Horn of Africa, the above-mentioned EU's first-ever naval operation, EUNAVFOR Atalanta, with a mandate to repress, deter and prevent acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia and to contribute to the protection of merchant vessels and in particular WFP vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia,

J.   whereas, since December 2008, Operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta has provided crucial protection for 50 WFP ships that have delivered roughly 300 000 tonnes of food, ultimately benefiting 1.6 million Somalis directly,

K.   whereas at the above-mentioned meeting of the External Relations Council on 27 July 2009 the Council decided to step up the EU's involvement in promoting peace and development in Somalia, in close cooperation with all relevant actors, particularly the UN and the AU, and to this end examined possible ways for the EU to contribute to international efforts, including in the security field,

L.   whereas at the above-mentioned meeting of the External Relations Council on 17 November 2009 the Council approved a Crisis Management Concept on a possible ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy) mission to contribute to the training of 2 000 Somali TFG security force personnel,

M.   whereas piracy has become a lucrative business, with huge ransoms being demanded for individuals, and whereas modern-day pirates use more sophisticated methods, are very well armed, have a clear strategy in place and are able to adapt quickly to new tactics,

N.   whereas such long-term assistance from international partners cannot be effective unless the security situation is stabilised,

O.   whereas UIC insurgents have ruled out all political contact and reconciliation with a view to peace as part of the Djibouti Peace Process, which provides a framework for reaching a lasting political solution in Somalia,

P.   whereas military personnel involved in the operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta can arrest, detain and transfer persons who are suspected of having committed acts of piracy or armed robbery in the areas where they are present; whereas the suspects can also be prosecuted by an EU Member State or by Kenya under the agreement signed with the EU on 6 March 2009 giving the Kenyan authorities the right to prosecute,

Q.   whereas, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a vast number of illegal shipments of toxic waste, the contents of which are leaking, have been deposited along the coast of Somalia with total disregard for the health of the local population and conservation of the environment,

1.   Strongly condemns the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia; calls for an immediate end to hostilities and asks all armed groups to lay down their weapons as a matter of urgency and join in genuine broad-based dialogue with the TFG; demands that all warring factions refrain from indiscriminate attacks on civilians and calls for an independent panel to investigate war crimes and human rights violations;

2.   Reaffirms its support for the TFG under the leadership of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and for the President's commitment to honour the principles laid down in the Djibouti Peace Agreement, including the spirit of reconciliation and the search for an inclusive political process; condemns the armed attacks against Somalia's TFG and against the UN and NGOs;

3.   Recalls that the international community and all parties to the present conflict have a responsibility to protect civilians, to allow delivery of aid and to respect humanitarian space and the safety of humanitarian workers; demands therefore that the right conditions for an adequate response to the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia be created immediately;

4.   Notes with great satisfaction that EUNAVFOR Atalanta continues to make a successful contribution to maritime security off the coast of Somalia by protecting WFP-chartered vessels delivering aid to Somalia, vessels supplying critical shipments to the AU peace support operation in Somalia and other vulnerable vessels; calls upon the Council to extend the operation for another year when the current mandate comes to an end on 12 December 2009; expresses its support for a possible southward extension of the operation zone depending on pirate activity, but underlines that such an extension should not affect the mission's essential goal, namely the protection of WFP convoys and other vulnerable vessels such as the merchant fleet and fishing vessels;

5.   Emphasises that piracy on the high seas is gravely undermining the security situation and severely affecting the supply of food aid in what is an already critical humanitarian situation;

6.   Stresses that fighting piracy successfully will be made possible only by addressing the root causes of the problem, which are land-based, which include poverty and a failed state, and can be eradicated only by means of peace, development and state-building in Somalia;

7.   Takes the view that, until such time as a political solution has been found by the international community to the problem of Somalia's trustworthiness as a state, the security strategy implemented by means of Operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta must continue to prevail and even be strengthened in terms of the resources available to the forces deployed by the operation itself;

8.   Calls upon the Council, therefore, to examine the possibility of setting up a new, small-scale ESDP operation in parallel to Operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta to contribute to the training of TFG security forces, thereby bringing existing initiatives – including the French initiative in Djibouti and the Ugandan initiative as part of the training programme set up by AMISOM – into line with one another by ensuring that they take the same type of action; welcomes, in this regard, the approval by the Member States on 17 November 2009 of the Crisis Management Concept for a possible new ESDP operation for Somalia but insists that the adoption of this concept should in no way prejudge the decision on launching a mission, which can be taken only after a more detailed examination of the situation on the ground, making sure that human rights are respected, salaries are paid and equipment is provided and that the trained security forces are integrated into state and command structures so that, once they return, they will not turn against the government they are supposed to be protecting;

9.   Regrets that 35-40% of vessels in the area are not registered with the central maritime security coordination body and that, as a result, these vessels are not aware of the specific security threats; calls, therefore, on the Member States to ensure that all their boats are registered; calls on all vessels to follow EU NAVFOR – Operation Atalanta recommendations so as to ensure the highest possible level of security and thus reduce the risk of attack or capture;

10.   Regrets that a weak attitude towards the demands of the Somali pirates, without application of the necessary coercive measures, could produce counter-productive and undesirable effects in the future by contributing to new cases of piracy in the zone;

11.   Expresses its continued support for AMISOM, given its pivotal role in the peace process; insists that further involvement with the AU and AMISOM should identify the most urgent needs and possible forms of additional EU support to help AMISOM develop capabilities commensurate with its mandate;

12.   Calls on the international community, and the EU in particular, to increase its provision of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and people in need;

13.   Takes the view that the involvement of Somali women's organisations and civil society could play a positive role in the national reconciliation process;

14.   Calls on Member States to study the possibility of training crew members and fishermen in order to prepare them for the eventuality of hostage taking;

15.   Urges strict and renewed application and monitoring of the arms embargo against Somalia imposed by the UN in 1992, to which scant respect is paid; calls for those who violate the Somalia arms embargo to be held accountable;

16.   Calls on the UN and the Commission to carry out a full investigation of toxic waste dumping and illegal fishing along the Somali coast, to establish responsibilities at all levels, to support the efforts to bring to justice those responsible for these crimes and to ensure that environmental contamination is comprehensively dealt with;

17.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Secretaries-General of the AU, the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development , the President of the TFG, the Government of Ethiopia and the Pan-African Parliament.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0519 .
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0313 .
(3) OJ L 330, 9.12.2008, p. 19.


Smoke-free environments
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on smoke-free environments
P7_TA(2009)0100 B7-0164/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular the second subparagraph of Article 152(4),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 30 June 2009 for a Council recommendation on smoke-free environments (COM(2009)0328 ),

–   having regard to the Commission's Green Paper of 30 January 2007 entitled 'Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level' (COM(2007)0027 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2007 on the Green Paper 'Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level'(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 23 February 2005 on the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010(2) and of 4 September 2008 on the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010(3) ,

–   having regard to the 2003 World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), in particular Article 8 (protection from exposure to tobacco smoke) and Article 14 (demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation),

–   having regard to the 2004 WHO European strategy for smoking cessation policy,

–   having regard to the 2007 WHO policy recommendations on protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke,

–   having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–   having regard to the statement by the Council on smoke-free environments,

–   having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable death, accounting for over half a million deaths each year in the EU(4) ,

B.   whereas it is estimated that 25 % of all cancer deaths and 15 % of all deaths in the EU could be attributed to smoking(5) ; whereas according to conservative estimates, 7 300 adults, including 2 800 non-smokers, died as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) at their workplace in the EU in 2002; and whereas a further 72 000 adult deaths, including those of 16 400 non-smokers, were linked to ETS exposure at home(6) ,

C.   whereas, according to the Eurobarometer survey of March 2009, 70 % of the EU population are non-smokers and a broad majority of citizens are in favour of a ban in all public places (workplaces, restaurants, bars and pubs),

D.   whereas, in spite of the fact that it is obvious that children are particularly vulnerable to ETS, the respective data specifically focused on the results of children's long-term and systematic exposure to ETS are either not sufficient or unavailable, and a study providing relevant data can be more effectively prepared on a pan-European level and is preferable to 27 different studies in the 27 different Member States,

E.   whereas exposure to ETS – also referred to as second-hand tobacco smoke – is a significant additional cause of mortality, morbidity and disability in the EU,

F.   whereas tobacco smoke is a complex toxic mixture of more than 4 000 gaseous and particulate compounds, including 69 known carcinogens and numerous toxic agents,

G.   whereas ETS has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer,

H.   whereas there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke; whereas everyone has the right to a high level of health protection and should be protected from such exposure, and whereas children are particularly vulnerable to tobacco pollution,

I.   whereas smokers take more days off work for short- and long-term illnesses than non-smokers and ex-smokers, adding to the huge cost of tobacco consumption to individuals, employers, businesses, and the economy as a whole,

J.   whereas children cannot themselves consent to their exposure to ETS in closed spaces, and have the right to be protected and not to be harmed by practices prejudicial to their health,

K.   whereas exposure to tobacco pollution during pregnancy can result in a higher risk of deformities, miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births, stunted growth of the foetus, smaller head circumference and lower birth weight, and whereas there is a link between passive smoking and middle ear infections, impaired lung functioning, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome,

L.   whereas the evidence shows that the introduction of smoke-free policies has resulted in an overall improvement in working conditions and in a reduced incidence of smoking-related morbidity (e.g. acute coronary events, respiratory conditions or myocardial infections),

M.   whereas the costs to health systems resulting from tobacco consumption are borne by the population in general and not by those responsible for creating them,

N.   whereas the EU and 26 of the 27 Member States have already signed and ratified the FCTC; recalling also the preamble to the Constitution of the WHO, which states that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being,

O.   whereas Article 8 of the FCTC creates a legal obligation for its Parties to adopt and implement in areas of existing national jurisdiction as determined by national law and to actively promote at other jurisdictional levels the adoption and implementation of effective measures to protect people from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in all indoor workplaces, public transport and indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places,

P.   whereas Parliament has called on the Member States to introduce, by October 2009, an unrestricted smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces, including catering establishments, and in all enclosed public buildings and transport in the EU,

Q.   whereas national legislation differs widely across the Member States,

1.   Regrets that the Presidency decided to adopt the Council recommendation without the opinion of Parliament;

2.   Regrets the fact that the lack of comprehensive regulations on smoke-free environments in the majority of Member States (in particular in the hospitality and leisure sectors) results in inequalities between different occupational and socio-economic groups, hospitality workers being three times more likely to be exposed to tobacco smoke for over five hours a day than office workers;

3.   Points out that Parliament has consistently advocated stronger measures to tackle tobacco dependence and reduce exposure among young people to second-hand tobacco smoke;

4.   Underlines the serious harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke, the particular effects which exposure to harmful substances may have during the vulnerable period of childhood, and the fact that children do not have the legal capacity to give their consent to systematic and long-term exposure to smoke-filled environments;

5.   Stresses that the differing national laws result in huge differences in protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke between Member States;

6.   Considers it essential that the existing legislation on smoking bans in Member States should, while providing legal certainty, respect the principle of equality between different types of establishment in the hospitality sector;

7.   Welcomes the fact that the EU is actively developing a comprehensive tobacco control policy characterised by legislative measures, support for Europe-wide smoking prevention and cessation activities, mainstreaming tobacco control into a range of other Community policies, and establishing the EU as a major player in tobacco control at global level;

8.   Welcomes the willingness of the EU to fight tobacco consumption, as well as the newly displayed coherence of its policies;

9.   Stresses that binding legislation based on Articles 137 and 152 of the Treaty could potentially bring about reductions in ETS prevalence and the related health and economic burden; recognises, however, that those Articles, and in particular Article 137, do not directly address the specific problems of children;

10.   Stresses that only a full smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces, including catering establishments, and in all public buildings and transport, can protect the health of employees and non-smokers and make it considerably easier for smokers to quit;

11.   Welcomes the action taken by those Member States that have already adopted effective measures to ensure protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke; calls on the Member States to continue introducing rules for the protection of non-smokers in the field of protection of workers' health and to strengthen the ongoing efforts to protect non-smokers;

12.   Calls on the Commission to produce a report on the costs incurred by national health systems and the EU economy as a result of smoking and the effects of tobacco smoke pollution;

13.   Proposes that the Council recommend that Member States establish an ongoing dialogue and consultation with all relevant stakeholders in accordance with the Article 5.3 FCTC implementation guidelines adopted at the Conference of the Parties to the FCTC in 2009, in order to ensure the support of all actors for the implementation of national tobacco control strategies and programmes;

14.   Renews its call on the Commission to submit a proposal for the amendment of Directive 2001/37/EC(7) on tobacco products, including at least the modifications contained in Parliament's above-mentioned resolution of 24 October 2007;

15.   Calls on the Commission to produce a comprehensive study of the effects of the long-term and systematic exposure of children to second-hand and third-hand tobacco smoke in all their places of activity;

16.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to use both the proposed Council recommendation and Member States" best practices as a basis for input into the formulation of guidelines for the implementation of Article 14 FCTC ('demand reduction measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation'), to be adopted at the next Conference of the Parties to the FCTC;

17.   Encourages the Commission to continue implementing support measures at EU level, for instance awareness-raising measures including information on the packages of tobacco products, which are integrated with the national communications campaigns aimed at discouraging smoking;

18.   Considers it crucial that, as with the measures in favour of a 'Europe without tobacco', the Commission, cooperating closely with the Member States, should equip itself with new means to fight the different types of trafficking in and counterfeiting of tobacco products, notably on the Internet, in view of the immediate and increased dangers that they pose to consumers" health;

19.   Recalling the need for strong measures to ensure full and accurate monitoring and implementation, calls on those Member States which have already ratified the FCTC to implement its recommendations, under their Article 8 FCTC obligations, as well as to report to the Commission biannually on the progress of their implementation;

20.   Calls, once again, on the President and the Bureau, in the light of their duty to set an example to Member States, to adopt a smoking ban with no exemptions in all parts of Parliament and with immediate effect; calls for the rigorous enforcement of that ban;

21.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the WHO.

(1) OJ C 263 E, 16.10.2008, p. 447.
(2) OJ C 304 E, 1.12.2005, p. 264.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0410 .
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/tobacco_en.htm.
(5) http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/tobacco_en.htm.
(6) The Smoke Free Partnership (2006). Lifting the smokescreen: 10 reasons for a smoke-free Europe - Brussels, Belgium: European Respiratory Society.
(7) Directive 2001/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2001 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products (OJ L 194, 18.7.2001, p. 26.).


Ratification and implementation of updated ILO Conventions
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on the Conventions that have been classified by the ILO as up to date
P7_TA(2009)0101 B7-0165 and 0166/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Conventions that have been classified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as up to date,

–   having regard to the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation adopted on 10 June 2008,

–   having regard to the ILO Global Jobs Pact adopted on 19 June 2009,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 2 July 2008 on the renewed social agenda (COM(2008)0412 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2009 on the renewed social agenda(1) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 18 May 2004 entitled 'The Social Dimension of Globalisation – the EU's policy contribution on extending the benefits to all (COM(2004)0383 ),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 24 May 2006 entitled 'Promoting decent work for all – the EU contribution to the implementation of the decent work agenda in the world' (COM(2006)0249 ),

–   having regard to the AETR-related judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Case C-45/07 Commission v Greece (2) concerning the external competence of the Member States,

–   having regard to the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the fundamental values of freedom, human dignity, social justice, social security and equality are essential elements of sustainable economic and social development,

B.   whereas, in the current global economic and jobs crisis, these principles are even more relevant,

C.   whereas, since 1919, the ILO has maintained and developed a system of international labour standards which cover a broad range of subjects, including work, employment, social security, social policy and related human rights,

D.   whereas coherence needs to be ensured between the EU's internal and external policies,

1.   Welcomes the Conventions that have been classified by the ILO as up to date as a result of the ILO tripartite process which involved employers, workers and governments;

2.   Calls on the Member States to consider the strong social arguments for ratifying and implementing the Conventions that have been classified by the ILO as up to date, in conformity with the EU Treaties;

3.   Calls on the Commission to spell out precisely to Parliament and to the Member States which Conventions fall within the competence of the European Union and which fall under the subsidiarity principle;

4.   Calls on the President Elect of the European Council to be as ambitious as possible within his mandate to encourage Member States to ratify and implement the updated ILO Conventions;

5.   Calls on the Commission to consider the adoption of a recommendation to the Member States to encourage the ratification of the Conventions that have been classified by the ILO as up to date and to actively contribute to their implementation, taking into account the subsidiarity principle;

6.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0370 .
(2) OJ C 82, 4.4.2009, p. 3.


FAO World Summit on Food Security
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on the FAO Summit and food security
P7_TA(2009)0102 B7-0168 , 0169 , 0170 , 0171 and 0172/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Article 33 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 25 October 2007 on the rise in foodstuff prices(1) and of 22 May 2008 on rising food prices in the European Union and developing countries(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 November 2007 on advancing African agriculture - Proposal for agricultural development and food security in Africa(3) ,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1337/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 establishing a facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries(4) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2009 on the Common Agricultural Policy and Global Food Security(5) ,

–   having regard to the Agricultural Outlook 2008-2017 released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),

–   having regard to the recommendations of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD),

–   having regard to the outcome of the "Health Check" reform of the common agricultural policy,

–   having regard to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness,

–   having regard to the conclusions and declaration issued by the FAO World Summit on Food Security held in Rome from 16 to 18 November 2009,

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the European Union is the leading global donor of development and humanitarian aid, but whereas at international level the share of official development assistance (ODA) allocated to agriculture, particularly by the European Union, has steadily diminished since the 1980s, falling from 17 % in 1980 to 3,8 % in 2006; whereas, against a background of pressure on natural resources, global food demand is expected to double by 2050 and global food production will need to increase,

B.   whereas the final declaration of the 2009 World Summit on Food Security neither sufficiently analyses the reasons for the failure to eradicate hunger, nor does it make concrete proposals on how to step up the fight against hunger; whereas, according to the FAO, an investment of EUR 30 billion per year would be enough to ensure food security for a world population which will reach 9 billion by 2050,

C.   whereas the European Union remains a major food producer, but is also a major importer of agricultural products, falling significantly short of self-sufficiency in numerous agricultural commodities; whereas the rise in the prices of animal feed is increasing production costs, with the risk that output of stockfarming products will fall,

D.   whereas dramatic fluctuations in commodity prices may become a more pronounced and regular feature of the global market; whereas higher food prices do not automatically translate into higher farm incomes, mainly due to the speed at which farm-input costs increase and the growing divergence between producer and consumer prices,

E.   whereas world food stocks have fallen to critically low levels, from one year's supply of food in stock after the Second World War to just 57 days" stock in 2007 and only 40 days" stock in 2008,

F.   whereas depleted stocks, even in the EU, have an adverse effect on the emergency food programme, which has, at present, less food to distribute; whereas this problem and the global food-price crisis have had the immediate and serious consequence of increasing the number of hungry people in the world to 1 billion in 2009 according to the FAO, meaning that one person in six is currently undernourished and suffering from chronic hunger,

G.   whereas more than 40 million people die of hunger and poverty every year, including one child every six seconds; whereas these developments have sparked riots and unrest throughout the world, further destabilising countries and regions around the globe; whereas at the World Food Summit in 1996 representatives from 185 countries committed themselves to cutting the number of hungry people by half by 2015; and whereas family farmers, herders and rural workers account for more than half the world's population and are the primary victims of hunger,

H.   whereas climate change is having a serious impact on farming, for example by reducing crop yields because of the water shortages affecting local agricultural activities in the poorest countries,

I.   whereas agriculture provides employment and a livelihood for more than 70 % of the labour force in developing countries, and for more than 80 % in many African countries, and, as a consequence, rural development policies are essential in order to tackle poverty and hunger effectively; whereas the World Bank estimates that growth in the agricultural sector is twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other sectors,

J.   whereas the European Union provides more than 50 % of all development aid worldwide, including the Member States' contributions; a fact confirmed by the current contribution through EC instruments (around EUR 1,8 billion: EUR 1 billion through the new facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries and the rest through existing development and humanitarian aid instruments),

K.   whereas the proportion of deforested land and agricultural resources used for the production of animal feed, meat and biomass for agro-fuels has grown, contributing considerably to worldwide speculation in agricultural commodities,

1.   Stresses that the number of people suffering from hunger and poverty now exceeds 1 billion and that this is an unacceptable blight on the lives of one-sixth of the world's population; notes that the effects of longstanding underinvestment in food security, agriculture and rural development have recently been further exacerbated by food, financial and economic crises, among other factors, and that the overall efforts have so far fallen short of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); notes that collectively steps need to be taken to reverse this trend and gradually make the right to adequate food a reality in the context of national food security;

2.   Stresses the right of everyone to have access to sufficient safe and nutritious food; calls for a world free from hunger and points out that a genuine fight against hunger requires the establishment of comprehensive policies which enhance sustainable farming and food production systems, so as to improve developing countries' capacity to feed their people; calls on countries to implement the FAO 'Voluntary guidelines for the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security' and supports the practical application of these guidelines on the basis of the principles of participation, transparency and accountability; welcomes the undertakings given in principle at the Rome Summit, but expresses disappointment at the lack of specific financial pledges and the poor attendance by G8 high-level representatives; in this context, calls on all Member States to redouble their commitment to achieving MDG 1 (to halve hunger by 2015) and endorse a global goal to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2025 or, failing that, the earliest possible date;

3.   Stresses the importance of the common agricultural policy (CAP) as the means of securing food production in the European Union; believes that the CAP has provided EU citizens with a secure food supply since its inception in 1962, in addition to protecting and enhancing the rural environment and EU food production standards which are the highest in the world; stresses the need for Community agriculture to continue to play that role in the future;

4.   Stresses that since 2007 agricultural commodity prices have fluctuated dramatically and that between mid-2007 and mid-2008 prices rose steeply, followed by a sharp increase in consumer prices; notes that this steep increase in basic commodity prices was followed swiftly by a sharp fall in commodity prices to unsustainable levels; remains concerned that food prices may surge again as the global economy recovers, as many of the structural problems, including lack of investment and high demand in certain regions, persist;

5.   Notes with concern the escalating costs of farm inputs (for instance increases in prices of fertilisers and seeds ) which have translated into a rise in costs for which not all farmers (particularly in the livestock sector) have been equally compensated and which has significantly eroded any potential increase in farm incomes stemming from higher commodity and food prices, thus lessening the stimulus to increase sustainable agricultural production; is concerned that dramatic increases in input prices could result in less use of inputs and potentially reduced output, which would exacerbate the food crisis in Europe and the world;

6.   Points out that the price volatility of recent years - both the highs and the lows - has made guaranteeing food security a particularly elusive goal; stresses that if farmers do not receive a fair price for their produce they will cease production; points out once again that EU farms produce between 17 % and 30 % of the world's wheat, milk and beef; stresses that maintaining viable farms in the EU will be of paramount importance for food supplies in the EU and throughout the world in the years to come;

7.   Draws attention to the longer-term structural causes at play in the recent increase in prices of agricultural commodities, including steadily rising global demand and sustained reductions in investment in productive agriculture; notes that, among these factors, the increase in the price of energy, and in particular in the oil price, has had a major impact on global agricultural production (due to increasing production and food-distribution costs) and on the frequency of food crises in poor countries (owing to higher food transport costs within those countries);

8.   Notes that to feed a world population expected to surpass 9 billion in 2050, agricultural output will have to increase by 70 % between now and then; points out that over 860 million people globally suffer from chronic hunger; notes that the World Bank predicts that the surge in food prices and the current fuel and food crisis will push an additional 130-155 million people into deeper poverty compared to 2008;

9.   Believes that the CAP should remain the cornerstone of EU food security policy and that it should be further adapted to meet food security concerns in Europe and at world level; cautions against the dismantling of market-support measures and cuts in farm-support payments in the light of the extreme volatility of commodity prices and, hence, farm incomes;

10.   Stresses the importance of international cooperation and solidarity and the need to refrain from taking unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations which endanger food security; calls for balanced trade agreements, as they are an essential element of a global food security response;

11.   Urges the Commission and the Member States to include equitable financial mechanisms and concepts of burden-sharing in the context of climate adaptation in the forthcoming negotiations in Copenhagen, paying special attention to support for climate-friendly agricultural practices as a coherent means of fighting hunger, to take coordinated measures to halt any further loss of soil fertility and biodiversity, two essential components of food production systems, to increase overall efficiency and reduce waste in global food chains, and to improve local market access;

12.   Acknowledges the FAO's view that net food-importing countries are hardest hit by rising food prices and that many of these countries are the world's least developed; points out once again that poverty and dependence on food imports are leading causes of food insecurity; is mindful of the fact that only a small percentage of global food production, which increasingly comes from only a small number of exporting countries, is actually traded on international markets;

13.   Is alarmed by the current global financial crisis, which may result in a reduction in the amount of funding available for farming; calls on the Commission to analyse the effects of the financial crisis on the agricultural sector and to consider proposals to ensure the stability of the sector, also in terms of access to loans and credit guarantees; points out that the food crisis is closely bound up with the financial crisis, in the context of which liquidity injections made by central banks to prevent bankruptcies may have increased speculative investments in commodities; calls on the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Forum to assess this side-effect and take it into account when proposing global remedies;

14.   Believes that the CAP is an important element of EU food security policy now and beyond 2013 and that it should play a significant role in development policies, with specific regard to external food security policy; considers that functioning ecosystems, fertile soils, stable water resources and a diverse rural economy are essential in the interests of long-term food security; believes that, besides securing the European Union's food production, the CAP can contribute to meeting the increased demand for food globally without distorting the market; calls for measures to stabilise local and regional farming systems which are based on sustainable farming practices and provide strategic food reserves;

15.   Considers that the financing facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries is a necessary first step towards meeting the immediate needs of those most affected by the food crisis; takes the view that the Commission should audit how the money is spent, ensuring that it is always used where the need is greatest, and that it should submit regular reports to Parliament;

16.   Calls on the Commission to strengthen its existing programmes designed to ensure food security in Europe and the world; calls for funding for the Food Security Thematic Programme (2007-2010), currently endowed with a budget of EUR 925 million for the entire programming period, to be increased; calls on the Commission to conduct a full impact assessment of the EU's policies and programmes in the areas of agriculture, development and trade in order to guarantee a coherent, sustainable policy approach to global food security;

17.   Reaffirms that food security is a national responsibility and that any plans for addressing food security challenges must be thought out, coordinated, owned and led at national level and based on consultation with all key stakeholders; stresses that food security should be a high priority and that its importance should be reflected in national programmes and budgets; stresses that good governance should play a key role and that corruption at national level should be tackled; believes that the fight against hunger must be based on the recognition of the right to food sovereignty, defined as the capacity of a country or a region to democratically implement its own agricultural and food policies, priorities and strategies;

18.   Believes that ongoing research into sustainable agriculture production systems is essential; stresses the role of publicly-funded research programmes, of the EU technology platform for ecological agricultural research and of the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development; calls for programmes for technology transfer to developing countries to be implemented where appropriate; calls on the FAO member governments to follow the recommendations made in the IAASTD to reverse top-down transfer-of-technology concepts and replace them with bottom-up, participatory, farmer-oriented innovation concepts;

19.   Considers that one serious obstacle to increased agricultural output in developing countries is the lack of access for small farmers to loans and micro-credits for investment in seeds, fertilisers and irrigation mechanisms; stresses, furthermore, the issue of loan guarantees, which, in most cases, are not available; calls on the European Investment Bank to look into ways of providing programmes to assist local food producers in developing countries with loan guarantees to support access to credit and micro-credit;

20.   Resolves to establish a high-level standing working group on the EU's contribution to achieving global food security, in order to draw up common approaches to the major challenges the Commission has identified for sustainable agriculture, fisheries and rural development;

21.   Notes that the global food crisis is one of the major threats to peace and security in the world; welcomes, in that connection, the recent efforts by the Commission to investigate ways of tackling the global food security issue; calls on the Member States to support such initiatives at national and local level;

22.   Stresses that farmland acquisition by foreign investors, particularly in Africa, must not have an adverse impact on local food security or lead to unsustainable land use; points out that it may also have positive effects by bringing land into productive use; urges the FAO and the Member States to work towards common rules and legislative proposals which recognise the right of local people in every country to control farmland and other natural resources vital to their food security;

23.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 263 E, 16.10.2008, p. 621.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0229 .
(3) OJ C 297 E, 20.11.2008, p. 201.
(4) OJ L 354, 31.12.2008, p. 62.
(5) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0006 .


Nicaragua
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on Nicaragua
P7_TA(2009)0103 B7-0174 , 0175 and 0176/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Nicaragua, in particular that of 18 December 2008 on the attacks on human rights defenders, civil liberties and democracy in Nicaragua(1) ,

–   having regard to the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement of 15 December 2003 between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republics of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, of the other part, and to the Framework Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Republics of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama(2) ,

–   having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, June 2004,

–   having regard to the reports of the EU expert team on the Nicaraguan municipal elections of 9 November 2008,

–   having regard to the statements of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner on the events in Nicaragua following the municipal elections of 9 November 2008,

–   having regard to the negotiations under way on the signing of an Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America,

–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has expressed concern at a series of actions and statements by the Nicaraguan Government that are stifling freedom of the press in that country,

B.   whereas under Article 147 of the Nicaraguan Constitution, which was introduced in 1995, it is not possible to run for two consecutive presidential mandates and whereas President Ortega is attempting illegally to circumvent that provision in order to be able to run for a second mandate in the 2011 elections,

C.   whereas only the legislature may pronounce on constitutional reform, and whereas the party in government, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) does not have the necessary two-thirds majority,

D.   whereas on 19 October 2009 the Nicaraguan Supreme Court of Justice met during the night, in the absence of three of the six member judges, who were not invited and who were replaced by three pro-government judges, and unanimously declared Article 147 of the Constitution unenforceable,

E.   whereas all the opposition political parties represented in the National Assembly, as well as many civil society associations, lawyers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have rejected that judicial declaration as unlawful and have agreed to work together to safeguard democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua,

F.   whereas the judicial declaration was immediately welcomed by the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA),

G.   whereas, during a visit to Nicaragua, a delegation from the group Liberal International was threatened and insulted, and its president, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen MEP, was even threatened with expulsion from Nicaragua and declared persona non grata by the Sandinista authorities,

H.   whereas there has been a regression of democracy in Nicaragua since the alleged fraud in the municipal elections in 2008, the attacks and acts of harassment which have been directed towards human rights organisations and their members, as well as journalists and media representatives, by individuals, political forces and bodies linked to the State authorities,

I.   whereas the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms must be an integral part of the EU's external policies,

J.   whereas the European Union and its partners, when concluding third-country agreements which include a human rights clause, are assuming responsibility for ensuring compliance with international human rights standards, and whereas such clauses are necessarily reciprocal,

K.   whereas the European Union should exercise greater control over the use of funds given to Nicaragua for development projects in order to ensure that none of the money falls into Sandinista hands,

L.   whereas the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and several Nicaraguan NGOs have expressed concern over the lack of transparency of recent elections,

1.   Deplores the numerous attacks and acts of harassment to which human rights organisations and their members and independent journalists have been subjected by individuals, political forces and bodies linked to the State;

2.   Condemns amendments to the Constitution which infringe the Nicaraguan constitutional order, in particular the legally questionable tactics used by the Nicaraguan Government involving pro-government judges in the Supreme Court of Justice;

3.   Calls on President Ortega to respect the Nicaraguan Constitution, which prohibits Presidents from serving for two successive terms in office, and points out that only the legislature may pronounce on constitutional reform and that there are no circumstances under which the courts may do so;

4.   Considers that President Ortega's attitude reflects his scant understanding of and respect for democracy, the rule of law and the exercise of basic fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression and political association;

5.   Supports all those in Nicaragua who are against the violation of the constitutional order perpetrated by the Government authorities, and calls for that order to be re-established without delay and for the judicial declaration of 19 October 2009 to be annulled;

6.   Condemns and deplores the threats, insults and intimidation to which the Liberal International delegation, headed by Johannes Cornelis van Baalen MEP, was subjected, and expresses its solidarity with the members of that delegation;

7.   Deplores the conduct of the municipal elections of 9 November 2008, with manoeuvring on the part of the Nicaraguan Government to disqualify opposition political parties, numerous polling irregularities, allegations of electoral fraud and a refusal to accredit independent election observers, whether foreign or local; calls on the Commission to send an EU election observation mission to monitor the forthcoming presidential elections;

8.   Deplores the fact that the Organisation of American States, which is normally so diligent in dealing with other problematic issues, did not see fit to comment on such a clear violation of the constitutional order of one of its member countries;

9.   Points out that, during the negotiations on the Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America, Nicaragua must be reminded of the need to respect the principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights, as upheld and promoted by the European Union;

10.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, the Central American Parliament, the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Nicaragua and the Supreme Court of Justice of Nicaragua.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0641 .
(2) OJ L 63, 12.3.1999, p. 39.


Laos and Vietnam
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on the situation in Laos and Vietnam
P7_TA(2009)0104 B7-0157 , 0177 , 0178 and 0179/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the 15th ASEAN Summit Meeting of 23 to 25 October 2009,

–   having regard to the inauguration of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights on 23 October 2009,

–   having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights 2008,

–   having regard to the ongoing negotiations on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Vietnam and to the EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue held twice a year between the EU and the Government of Vietnam,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Laos, in particular those of 15 November 2001 on the arbitrary arrests and the political situation in Laos(1) and 1 December 2005 on the human rights situation in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam(2) ,

–   having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the Lao People's Democratic Republic of 1 December 1997, based on "respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights",

–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

Vietnam

A.   whereas the Vietnamese Government has refused to respond to many of the recommendations made during the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, held from May to September 2009, with a view to improving its human rights record,

B.   whereas hundreds of people are currently imprisoned in Vietnam for their religious or political beliefs, including Montagnard Christians, a Catholic priest, Mennonite pastors, members of the Cao Dai faith and Hoa Hao Buddhists,

C.   whereas on 27 September 2009 hundreds of young Buddhist monks from Bat Nha Monastery were violently attacked and beaten and their monastery vandalised, while the State authorities and police ignored their plea for help; whereas other monks who found refuge in the Phuoc Hue Temple were subjected to physical violence and harassment by the police; whereas the monks are facing the risk of expulsion by the government on the grounds that they have been occupying Bat Nha Monastery without permission or prior registration,

D.   whereas the assault on the monastery is considered by many to be linked to the 10-point proposal for religious reform which Thich Nhat Hanh presented to Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet in 2007,

E.   whereas all religious groups must be authorised by the government and overseen by government-appointed management committees, and whereas many religious organisations face a ban and persecution of their members if they wish to remain independent of the government,

F.   whereas the dignitaries of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam are virtually all imprisoned, starting with its Patriarch Thich Quang Do (aged 81), the most eminent of the Vietnamese dissidents, who has been detained for more than 27 years, currently in his monastery of Zen Thanh Minh in Ho Chi Minh City,

G.   whereas Ms Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, a Vietnamese writer and a leading figure in the movement for democracy in Vietnam, has been arrested again after serving a nine-month prison sentence in 2007; whereas she suffers from severe diabetes, in spite of which the Vietnamese authorities refuse to release her on bail or allow her to receive any medication,

H.   whereas several prisoners of conscience, including Nguyen Van Ly, Le Thi Cong Nhan, and Nguyen Binh Thanh, all sentenced for "propaganda against the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam", have been denied proper medical care in prison although their medical condition requires their immediate hospitalisation,

I.   whereas in the absence of independent human rights organisations, Church leaders often take on the role of human rights defenders and fight for greater tolerance and more democratic principles,

J.   whereas Vietnam, which will assume the chair of ASEAN in 2010, should set an example by improving its human rights practices; whereas the government could start by releasing the hundreds of peaceful government critics, independent church activists, bloggers and democracy advocates imprisoned on groundless national security charges in violation of international law for expressing peaceful dissent,

Laos

K.   whereas on 25 September 2009 the Lao People's Democratic Republic ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees in particular people's right to freedom of faith, freedom of association, and freedom of speech and of the press, as well as the right to demonstrate and political rights,

L.   whereas almost one month after the 10th anniversary of the "Student Movement of 26 October 1999" launched by students and teachers in Vientiane, the main leaders of the movement – Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Seng-Aloun Phengphanh, Bouavanh Chanmanivong and Kèochay – are still being held in secret detention, while according to reports Khamphouvieng Sisa-At has died in prison in uncertain circumstances,

M.   whereas on 2 November 2009 more than 300 people who were preparing for a peaceful demonstration in Vientiane to demand respect for human rights and a multiparty system in memory of the 10th anniversary of the crackdown were apprehended by the secret police of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and whereas nine of them – Ms Kingkèo and Ms Somchit, Mr Soubinh, Mr Souane, Mr Sinpasong, Mr Khamsone, Mr Nou, Mr Somkhit and Mr Sourigna – are still being held in custody,

N.   whereas Laos continues to persecute Hmong communities because of a Hmong insurgency that dates back to the 1960s, subjecting Hmong living in areas of Laos suspected to be centres of insurgency to arrest, torture, sexual abuse and extrajudicial killing,

O.   whereas 5 000 Lao Hmong are currently being detained in the Huay Nam Khao camp in Thailand and are subject to deportation as a result of an agreement between the Governments of Thailand and Laos, and whereas another 158, including 85 children, have been detained in inhuman conditions for over three years in Nong Khai,

P.   whereas there is concern about the general political situation in Laos, which has been ruled by a single party since 1975 and whose population continues to be deprived of basic human rights,

Vietnam

1.   Urges the government to cease all forms of repression against those who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion and freedom of assembly, in accordance with international human rights standards and the Vietnamese Constitution; calls on the Vietnamese Government to comply with its international obligations, which entails recognition of all religious communities and the free practice of religion and the restitution of assets arbitrarily seized by the State from the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the Catholic Church and any other religions communities;

2.   Condemns the reported violent expulsion of more than 150 monks and nuns from monasteries and the fact that the increasingly tense situation following these actions against the peaceful Buddhist community is in clear contradiction of commitments to comply with internationally accepted standards on freedom of religion, especially when it comes to people trying to exercise their rights, which the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has undertaken to observe as a member of the UN Security Council and future Chair of ASEAN;

3.   Asks the Commission and the Council, within the framework of the current negotiations on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Vietnam, to include a binding and unambiguous clause on human rights and democracy, together with a mechanism allowing for its implementation, in order to put an end to systematic violations of democracy and human rights;

4.   Calls for the cessation of all persecution and harassment, and for monks and nuns to be allowed to practice Buddhism according to the tradition of the Thich Nhat Hanh Buddhist bonze community in Bat Nha and elsewhere;

5.   Demands the unconditional release of Thich Quang Do and re-establishment of the legal status of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and of its dignitaries;

6.   Calls on the government to put in place an independent national human rights commission, to receive and investigate allegations of torture or other abuses of power by public officials, including members of the security services, and to initiate proceedings to abolish the death penalty;

7.   Calls on the Government of Vietnam, in view of Vietnam's role as a member of the UN Security Council, to issue standing invitations to UN special rapporteurs, particularly those on freedom of expression, religious freedom, torture, human rights defenders and violence against women, and to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;

Laos

8.   Welcomes the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the Laotian Government; calls on the Laotian authorities to respect fully the terms of the Covenant, to harmonise Laotian law with its provisions without delay and to practise these provisions to internationally agreed standards, notably when it comes to freedom of speech, assembly and faith;

9.   Reiterates its demand for the immediate release of the leaders of the "Student Movement of 26 October 1999", as well as of all the prisoners of conscience held in Laos, and entrusts the competent EU delegation in Vientiane with the responsibility for following up this matter;

10.   Calls on the Laotian authorities to release unconditionally all those people arrested during the attempted peaceful demonstration on 2 November 2009;

11.   Calls on the Thai authorities to put an immediate end to the detention of 158 Lao Hmong refugees and to allow them to resettle in Thailand or in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands or Australia, which have already agreed to take them in; calls likewise on the Thai Government to guarantee that all Lao Hmong in the Huay Nam Khao camp have access to screening and status determination procedures if they wish to make an asylum claim;

12.   Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the situation of the Lao Hmong community and the government's programmes for ethnic minorities;

13.   Reiterates its demand to the Laotian authorities to devise and implement as soon as possible all the reforms needed to bring democracy to the country, to guarantee the right to peaceful expression of political opposition and to ensure that internationally monitored multi-party elections take place soon, with a view to national reconciliation;

General

14.   Urges the authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all human rights defenders, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, as their detention is a violation of human rights; also requests the authorities to guarantee their physical and psychological wellbeing in all circumstances and to offer those who need it access to good independent professional medical care;

15.   Calls on the Council and the Commission to carry out a detailed assessment of the implementation policies in the field of democracy and human rights conducted in Laos and Vietnam since the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements and to report back to Parliament;

o
o   o

16.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the governments and parliaments of Vietnam and Laos, the ASEAN Secretariat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) OJ C 140 E, 13.6.2002, p. 577.
(2) OJ C 285 E, 22.11.2006, p. 129.


China: minority rights and application of the death penalty
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European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2009 on China: minority rights and application of the death penalty
P7_TA(2009)0105 B7-0180 , 0181 , 0183 and 0184/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions of 1 February 2007(1) and 27 September 2007(2) on a universal moratorium on the death penalty,

–   having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions of 18 December 2007 (A/RES/62/149) and of 18 December 2008 (A/RES/63/168) entitled "Moratorium on the use of the death penalty",

–   having regard to the declarations by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union of, respectively, 29 October 2009 regarding the executions of two Tibetans, Mr Lobsang Gyaltsen and Mr Loyak, and 12 November 2009 regarding the executions of nine persons of Uighur ethnicity following the riots of 5-7 July 2009 in Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR),

–   having regard to Articles 35, 36 and 37 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, which provide, respectively, that all citizens shall enjoy freedom of expression and freedom of religious belief, and deem the freedom of the person to be 'inviolable',

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on China and, in particular, to its resolution of 13 December 2007 on the EU-China Summit and the EU-China human rights dialogue(3) ,

–   having regard to the EU-China seminar of 18-19 November 2009 and the 28th round of the EU-China human rights dialogue held on 20 November 2009 in Bejing,

–   having regard to the 27th round of the EU-China human rights dialogue held on 14 May 2009 in Prague,

–   having regard to the 12th EU-China Summit to be held on 30 November 2009 in Nanjing,

–   having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the Union is based on adherence to the values of freedom, democracy and observance of human rights and to the rule of law, and it regards observance of those inalienable rights as an essential prerequisite for peaceful existence in a society,

B.   whereas the new EU-China Strategic Partnership, currently being negotiated, is very important for relations between the Union and China in the future, and whereas a true partnership must be based on shared common values,

C.   whereas, on 8 May 2009, the Union called for commutation of the death sentences handed down by Lhasa Intermediate People's Court to several Tibetans following the Lhasa riots in March 2008,

D.   whereas, during the first days of July 2009, the worst ethnic violence in decades broke out in XUAR after Uighur demonstrators took to the streets and attacked Han Chinese in Urumqi, causing casualties among them, in protest against attacks on Uighur workers at a factory in South China in June 2009; whereas, according to official figures, 197 people died and more than 1600 people were wounded,

E.   whereas, in order to ensure that Tibetans and Uighurs, China's two major ethnic minorities, can coexist peacefully with the great majority of the Chinese population, who are of Han ethnicity, it is essential to begin a frank, ongoing and mutually respectful dialogue,

F.   whereas there is growing dissatisfaction and resentment among the Uighur population – which is largely Muslim, shares linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia and accounts for almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people – directed at the mainly Han Chinese authorities, the latter being accused of closely watching and containing religious activities in a context of employment discrimination and marginalisation of their own ethnic group in the region; whereas the call by human rights NGOs for the international community to send an independent investigative team to the site of the riots received no response,

G.   whereas the People's Republic of China has expressed a desire for harmonious ethnic relations in XUAR,

H.   whereas the legitimacy of the sentences passed on the Tibetans condemned for crimes during the March 2008 riots has been called into question in a report by Human Rights Watch, which states that some trial proceedings took place covertly on undisclosed dates and that the Tibetans were denied access to a meaningful defence with lawyers of their choosing,

I.   whereas religious observance in China is subject to restrictions and is closely controlled by the State,

J.   whereas the death penalty is applicable in the case of 68 offences in China, including non-violent offences such as tax fraud and drugs offences,

1.   Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances; recalls the EU's strong commitment to working towards abolition of the death penalty everywhere and emphasises once again that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights;

2.   Recognises the positive move by the Supreme People's Court, in January 2007, to review death sentences but deplores the fact that it has not led to a significant decrease in the number of executions in China; remains concerned that China still carries out the greatest number of executions worldwide;

3.   Urges the Chinese Government, therefore, to adopt a moratorium on the death penalty immediately and unconditionally, this being seen as a crucial step towards abolition of the death penalty; strongly condemns the execution of the two Tibetans, Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, and of the nine persons of Uighur ethnicity following, respectively, the events in March 2008 in Lhasa and the riots of 5-7 July 2009 in Urumqi; calls on the Chinese authorities to suspend all the other death sentences passed by the Intermediate People's Courts of Lhasa and Urumqi and to commute those sentences, in the case of persons duly found guilty of acts of violence, to terms of imprisonment; condemns, too, the death sentences with two years' suspension imposed on Tenzin Phuntsok and Kangtsuk, following the March protests, and the imprisonment for life of Dawa Sangpo, and underlines its concern as to whether they received a fair trial;

4.   Calls once again on China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; deplores the often discriminatory treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in China;

5.   Highlights the fact that the Chinese Government published its first National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-2010) in April 2009, aiming in particular to improve the protection of citizens" rights throughout the law-enforcement and judicial processes, eliminate arbitrary detention, prohibit the extortion of confessions by torture and ensure fair and open trials; calls on the Chinese authorities to make public the number of executions carried out;

6.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to make every effort to develop a genuine Han-Uighur dialogue, to adopt more inclusive and comprehensive economic policies in Xinjiang aimed at strengthening local ownership, and to protect the cultural identity of the Uighur population;

7.   Stresses that China's human rights record remains a matter of serious concern; insists on the need for rigorous follow-up between all rounds of the EU-China human rights dialogue, with a view to ensuring the application of the recommendations resulting from previous dialogues, which were mutually agreed by both parties, and in the form of the EU-China legal seminars on human rights which used to precede the rounds of the dialogue and which involved academic and civil-society representatives; calls on the Council and the Commission to put the questions of abolition of the death penalty and observance of ethnic minorities' and religious rights on the agenda for the 12th EU-China Summit on 30 November 2009, and to continue to pursue inclusion in the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, currently in negotiation, of a clause concerning respect for human rights in China;

8.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to end immediately the "Strike Hard" campaign, under which the rights of the people in XUAR are being repressed, while the causes of unrest are being ignored;

9.   Calls for the reopening of sincere and results-orientated dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama's representatives, based on the 'Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People' and leading towards a positive, substantial and meaningful change in Tibet consistent with the principles outlined in the Constitution and laws of the People's Republic of China;

10.   Reiterates its solidarity with all the victims of the events in Urumqi, XUAR, in July 2009, while recognising the duty of the State institutions to maintain public order; is concerned at reports alleging that disproportionate force was used against ethnic Uighurs and that large numbers of them were detained;

11.   Calls on the Chinese authorities to ensure that those detained in connection with the above events are guaranteed humane treatment while in custody and fair trials in accordance with international law, including access to a lawyer of their choosing, presumption of innocence and proportionate sentencing of those found guilty;

12.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Government of the People's Republic of China.

(1) OJ C 250 E, 25.10.2007, p. 91.
(2) OJ C 219 E, 28.8.2008, p. 306.
(3) OJ C 323 E, 18.12.2008, p. 489.

Last updated: 14 September 2010Legal notice